When you finally get off the couch or bed to start a workout, you’re not going to be satisfied with so-so results. You start a session wanting to get 100 per cent out of every rep, sprint and set so that the hour you put in really counts. But that may not always be the case—if you’re working out while hungry, skipping sessions or hitting your home gym without a plan. Hate wasting your time? Here, pros share fitness tips that will help you make sure your workout stays as efficient as possible, each time.
1) Stay hydrated
According to a study, losing just two per cent of your body weight in fluids can make your workout feel harder, reduce your performance and mess with your body’s ability to recover after you leave the gym. “Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints, transports nutrients to give your body energy and keep you healthy,” says Shereena Master, a fitness trainer and mobility coach. Staying hydrated increases energy improves movement, recovery and agility; improving overall physical performance. The water helps maintain blood pressure during exercise so your heart doesn’t work harder to maintain normal blood pressure. “Good hydration also helps remove waste from muscles, while replacing the water that is lost through sweat,” she confirms.
2) Fuel your body right
The best food to eat before working out is a protein and carbohydrate-rich snack. Adequate proteins help to reduce muscle soreness and promote repair, which is key. Pros suggest staying away from high-fat foods because they take a long time to digest, and if you workout straight after eating them, your body is competing with itself for blood supply.
3) Always warm-up
Firing the right muscles is what makes your workout effective, therefore it is extremely essential to spend at least ten to fifteen minutes warming up. “Warming up is a way of preparing your body for exercise. Low-intensity warm-ups gradually increase heart rate and circulation so you are better prepared to handle higher intensity exercise,” states Master. As your body temperature increases, you’ll loosen your joints and increase blood flow to your muscles.
4) Use a foam roller
This lightweight cylindrical tube of compressed foam comes highly recommended by fitness experts for increasing flexibility, stamina and easing sore muscles. “Spend time foam rolling, mobilising and stretching your muscles before you go into any sort of exercise to ensure you aren’t compromising on form or range of motion,” advises Master. This simple equipment comes in hand to smooth out and lubricate the fascia, which is the connective tissue between the joints and muscles.
5) Add massages into your schedule
A massage doesn’t just feel good but works at a deeper level to improve blood flow, decrease inflammation and help muscles recover after intense exercise. According to Bengaluru-based yoga teacher Pragya Bhatt, body massage is the often-neglected aspect of fitness, because if done regularly, it can elevate your wellness game. It can treat and prevent delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS), decrease pain and improve recovery. According to research, it is able to influence genes in your muscle cells to decrease inflammation and increase the number of mitochondria too.
6) Log your progress
When you work out, employ the principle of progressive workload. The best way to make sure you’re doing that is by tracking and logging each session and work on increasing your reps, sets or the time you took for each exercise. Namrata Purohit, Mumbai-based pilates trainer, agrees: “Some ways to push the body to increase endurance and stamina is to increase the repetitions and intensity, or to reduce the rest or recovery times in between sets,” she shared with Vogue India.
7) Use a tracking device
If you need a more specific way to judge your progress, wearable devices can help a lot better. Heart rate monitors are motivating, because they provide a visual cue that lets you know if you’re pushing hard enough, which is great.
8) Switch things up
When you don’t give yourself a break between workouts, the body is put into a fight-or-flight response, which causes it to pump out cortisol, which is a stress hormone that boosts fat storage and appetite. To prevent this, it is best to alternate between workouts, like full-body strength training sessions or an upper body-focused session to help your muscles recover.